The Shift Protocol, which systematically reduces and/or eliminates Limiting Beliefs using Reconditioning via Exposure Therapy & Integration (REI) (more commonly referred to as Reprocessing)

It helps to take the memory that is associated with Limiting Belief and stored it in the wrong part of your brain. It’s stored in the emotionally active, fight-or-flight, amygdala part of your brain. Reprocessing helps create new neural networks so that the memory can be moved to declarative memory (where it is supposed to be) where there is no longer any emotion attached to it. When you take away that emotion, the Limiting Belief loses its power and you no longer have to feel like you are not good enough.

Reprocessing is a type of exposure therapy. There are a couple of schools of thought about how bilateral stimulation is actually working. Often we’ll explain both to our clients. One way it works is just like any other exposure therapy, which we have been doing for years and years as Psychologists. The basic principle is, as opposed to being an ostrich, driving your head into the ground when something bad happens.

Instead, we want to sit with that which gives us an opportunity to build up general distress tolerance skills. It also gives us the opportunity to see the reality of an unpleasant event or truth that we need to come to terms with. The other piece is what it’s actually doing in our brains. There is this theoretical view that it’s helping different parts of our brains to communicate more efficiently with each other. Regardless of which theory we subscribe to or if we are into both of them, the results are always the same. It shows good or better efficacy than just exposure therapy alone.

exposure therapy & reprocessing

Exposure therapy is a type of psychological treatment that was developed to help people confront their fears and anxieties.

When people are fearful or anxious about something, they tend to avoid the feared objects, activities, or situations. While this avoidance might help reduce feelings of fear in the short term, over the long term, it can make the fear become even worse. Exposure therapy targets this avoidance pattern by exposing individuals to the anxiety source or its context without the intention to cause any danger. Doing so can help them overcome their anxiety or distress.

Reconditioning via Exposure and Integration (REI), more commonly known as Reprocessing, can be thought of as an advanced form of exposure therapy.

It not only exposes individuals to their fear or anxiety but also encourages them to integrate new perspectives and beliefs to systematically reduce or eliminate limiting beliefs.

REI, as used in the Shift Protocol, involves a combination of exposure to distressing experiences and the integration of new, healthier beliefs. The objective is to weaken the impact of negative or limiting beliefs that contribute to conditions such as social anxiety.

The exposure component involves repeated, controlled exposure to the source of the fear, anxiety or many other clinical concerns.

For instance, someone with social anxiety might fear public speaking. Exposure might involve imagining giving a speech or actually doing so in a safe, controlled setting. The goal is not to jump into the most feared situation immediately, but to gradually work up to it using a hierarchy of feared situations.

This exposure is done systematically and incrementally, allowing the individual to become habituated to the fear source and, over time, reducing its anxiety-provoking power. With repeated exposure, the brain learns that the fear response is not useful, and the fear or anxiety gradually diminishes.

However, exposure alone might not fully address deeply ingrained, limiting beliefs. An individual might logically understand that public speaking does not pose a threat, yet still feel anxious due to a deep-seated belief of being judged negatively. This is where integration comes in.

The integration phase involves forming new, healthier beliefs about oneself and the world.

This is achieved by coupling the exposure exercises with cognitive restructuring techniques and mindfulness practices.

Cognitive restructuring helps individuals identify, challenge, and modify their limiting beliefs. It involves questioning the evidence for a negative belief, considering alternative perspectives, and developing a balanced and more realistic viewpoint. For instance, an individual might learn to replace the thought “I’m terrible at public speaking, and everyone will judge me” with “I can improve my public speaking with practice, and people are generally supportive and understanding.”

Meanwhile, mindfulness practices can further support the integration of new beliefs. They allow individuals to non-judgmentally observe their thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations during exposure exercises, promoting acceptance and reducing emotional reactivity.

Together, exposure and integration can lead to lasting changes in thought patterns, emotions, and behaviors. An individual might start out believing that they are fundamentally inept at social situations, driving them to avoid such scenarios and perpetuating their anxiety. Through the systematic use of REI techniques, they can learn to tolerate and eventually become comfortable in these situations. Simultaneously, they can internalize a new belief that they are capable and deserving of positive social interactions, helping to significantly reduce or even eliminate their social anxiety.

In conclusion, the Shift Protocol’s REI approach provides a robust method for addressing fear and anxiety. It combines the desensitizing effects of exposure therapy with the belief-transforming power of cognitive restructuring and mindfulness practices. While the path to overcoming anxiety can be challenging, and progress may sometimes be slow, this systematic approach can provide a solid foundation for lasting change.

Shift 101 – Learn the Shift Language

We don’t want to be throwing jargon at you but it’s essential that you have a basic understanding of some of these concepts